By Eric Stevick Herald Writer
MONROE — Police believe a group of teen vandals has caused more than $50,000 in damage to schools and businesses during a string of break-ins that began in December.
“It was out-of-control chaos and destruction,” Monroe police officer Scott Kornish said.
Kornish investigated the break-ins in his role as a school resource officer.
Five boys, ages 13 through 15, could face felonies for burglary or malicious mischief, he said.
Four others are under investigation for trespassing, a gross misdemeanor.
Some of the students were involved in more incidents than others.
A Monroe High School student, 15, appears to have been a ringleader. He’s under investigation for five burglaries and two counts of malicious mischief. He has been expelled for destruction of school property, Kornish said.
The other teens are middle school students.
Police believe the youths broke into Frank Wagner Elementary School, the Sky Valley Educational Center, a local movie theater on at least two occasions, and a vacant building that once housed a fitness center.
They are accused of slashing seats, a couch and the large screen at the movie theater in April. The damage estimate to the theater was more than $30,000.
The teens allegedly used knives and a sword to cause extensive damage to the building that once housed a fitness center on Chain Lake Road.
They are accused of breaking into Frank Wagner Elementary School in May and stealing adult sweatshirts, wristbands, candy, a box of rubber chickens and other items. There was graffiti spray painted on walls.
Graffiti also was found inside the Sky Valley Educational Center, where damage was done in a classroom and student pottery projects were broken.
Paint was poured into a fish tank, killing the fish.
One of the youths also is suspected of cutting wires to a surveillance camera outside St. Mary of the Valley Catholic Church in Monroe, officials said.
Parents of the teens have been cooperative in the investigation, Kornish said. For instance, the father of the high school student told police about the sweatshirts and brought his son in for questioning.
The investigation is continuing.
“I told them that I would be looking at cold cases,” Kornish said.
Debbie Willis, a Monroe Police Department spokeswoman, said Kornish has worked hard to try to determine all those who are involved.
“He has spent a tremendous amount of time tracking all these kids,” she said.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.